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Language campaigners call for ‘Welsh medium education for all’

28 Mar 2023 4 minute read
Mabli Siriol Jones, Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Education Group

Welsh language campaigners have called for the introduction of Welsh medium education for all, in an alternative Welsh Education Act.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith launched a draft Welsh Language Education Act in summer 2022, and following a period of consultation and discussion has now published the act in its final form.

The Welsh Government published a White Paper setting out proposals for a new Welsh Language Education Bill yesterday.

The campaign group collaborated with Fellow in Welsh Law, Keith Bush, to draw up the legislation.

Measures in Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Welsh Language Education Act include:

  • Setting a statutory goal on the face of the legislation to ensure that Welsh will be the language of education in Wales by 1 September 2050, which would mean that, by then, all children will receive a Welsh-medium education;
  • Moving every school over time along the language continuum to become a Welsh-medium school;
  • Replacing Welsh in Education Strategic Plans with national and local interim statutory targets, linked to a new funding formula with revenue and capital incentives;
  • Setting statutory targets for recruiting and training the Welsh-medium education workforce, through initial teacher education and in-service training programmes;
  • Establishing a single learning pathway and a single Welsh language qualification rather than continuing the dual system of first language and second language Welsh.

Dedicated campaigning

Mabli Siriol Jones, Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Education Group, said: “Our Welsh Language Education Act is the culmination of almost a decade of detailed policy work and dedicated campaigning, which has changed people’s expectations about what is needed in our education system.

“The Government is now saying that all children should leave school speaking Welsh, but if they’re serious about that, the only way to achieve the goal is to move towards Welsh-medium education for all. Our Act offers a detailed, achievable, ready-made plan. We ask the Government to adopt it.”

She added: “The white paper is an important step forward and shows that the Government accepts that our education system needs to be transformed. But the white paper will only be a starting point and we understand that the proposals do not currently include robust statutory targets to ensure that every child grows up to be a confident Welsh speaker.

“There is a danger that the targets will be too low, the aim too vague, and the actions insufficient. It’s vital that the Act in its final form contains ambitious statutory targets in terms of developing the Welsh-language education workforce and increasing the number of children receiving Welsh-medium education; and that establishing a single continuum and a single Welsh language qualification is included in the legislation.

“The Welsh language belongs to every child in Wales, whatever their background. We believe we need a system that ensures educational justice for all children and puts an end to the artificial divisions in our schools. Welsh language education for all is the only solution.”

Welsh language provision

The proposals in the Government’s White will mean an increase in the number of Welsh-medium schools and also an increase in the Welsh language provision in schools that aren’t already designated as Welsh-medium schools.

The paper also includes a commitment for the Welsh Government, through the Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru, to conduct a study with specialist input to consider a steeper trajectory for the growth of Welsh medium education for 2050 and beyond.

The government is seeking views on the proposals via a consultation which is open until 16 June 2023.

Launching the White paper on Monday, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles said: “We are committed to a future where everyone has the ability and the opportunity to use Welsh in their everyday lives.

“That’s why we are consulting on proposals to put our aims into law and to improve Welsh language skills in all schools.”

Plaid Cymru’s Designated Member, Cefin Campbell, added: “Our long-held vision is that the education system is absolutely key in giving each child the gift of fluency in the Welsh language.

“Bilingualism and multilingualism are the norm across Europe; the proposals in the White Paper take us further towards ensuring that our education system delivers Welsh to all pupils in a way that creates confident speakers.”


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Iago Prydderch
Iago Prydderch
11 months ago

Is this just empty talk from Cymdeithas yr Iaith because we all know they share the same politics as the current administration in Cardiff Bay who don’t care about the Welsh language? What the last twenty plus years have shown us since devolution is that they are all good at talking and making promises to make it appear they are doing something while the census results shows us the facts that the language has declined since devolution. If they really believed the language belongs to everyone in Wales they would take it more seriously. Judge them not by what they… Read more »

Richard
Richard
11 months ago

CYI did a great job pre devolution over many years and we owe them so much – but the world has moved on – and perhaps it time for them to also ?

We need a non party , bottom
up, active campaigning group who have specific aims that engage ALL of those who feel part of Cymu Newydd ?

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
11 months ago
Reply to  Richard

Please, why do we still have English Medium nursery and primary schools? It is surely just a case of phasing them out and phasing in Cymraeg. I have been shouting about this for years, but not much of it is happening.

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

That would be a good start, and should not be difficult to put in place – provided the nursery teachers of suitable calibre can be found.

Jon Summers
Jon Summers
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

Welsh medium nurseries struggle to find enough Welsh speaking staff in parts of the country already, never mind trying to increase their number.

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
10 months ago
Reply to  Jon Summers

I’ve already raised the point about the need to recruit enough competent staff. It’s such an obviously worthwhile project that recruitment and training will need to be started ASAP.

Lib Dem YesCymru Infiltrator
Lib Dem YesCymru Infiltrator
11 months ago

Cymdeithas fails for the same reason why Plaid has stalled, they have never had a lasting revolution against their own socialist beliefs.

Which makes them weak and easy to control.

hdavies15
hdavies15
11 months ago

Hardly socialism in the real sense, more a case of a hotchpotch mix of pseudo left, posturing identity stuff that shifts with the international fashion for new ishoos to embrace. This education initiative looks good on paper until you hear CYI members jabber to each other in mangled Welsh and English.

Jon Summers
Jon Summers
11 months ago

And for the English speaking majority who might prefer their children to have an English language education? What choice are they left with? Move to England? This smacks of desperation on the part of Cymdeithas, with current policies evidently not working. They would be better off looking at why Welsh speaking communities are being eroded, what can be done to strengthen them, rather than hoisting the language on an unwilling demographic who will probably never use the language anyway after leaving school, and forget it shortly after, but whose education may well have been damaged if they do not cope… Read more »

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
10 months ago
Reply to  Jon Summers

You’re overreacting, and second-guessing people’s opinion. There may be some who will be so appalled at the prospect of their children learning Welsh in Wales and will therefore move back to England, but others will wish to stay and be happy for their kids to become bilingual. Many send their offspring to WME schools as it is.

Jon Summers
Jon Summers
10 months ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

Welsh is already a mandatory part of the curriculum, and I doubt if many would object to their children learning it. It is the push for Welsh Medium Education for all that will ruffle feathers.

Jon Summers
Jon Summers
10 months ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

I also object to “move back to England”. In the SE of Wales, certainly, the majority of native Welsh people speak English only, and have done so historically for a considerable amount of time.

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